tv Student Cam - Grand Prize CSPAN April 21, 2019 8:58pm-9:08pm EDT
announcer: next sunday on q&a, new york times columnist david brooks on his book, second mountain. at 8:00q&a next sunday p.m. eastern and pacific time on c-span. announcer: all this month on c-span, we featured first and second prize winners of our studentcam documentary competition. middle and high school students created videos answering the question, what does it mean to be american? and now it's time to announce our grand prize winners. nathan doherty and eli scott, 11th graders at the international academy of north texas in mckinney, texas, where c-span is available through spectrum. their winning entry is titled "what it means to be american." >> the topic is accountability in government was what we believed was the really important topic in describing what it means to be an american
because it's something that was pretty clearly written into our constitutional documents. >> the thing that i think surprised both of us the most was the sheer amount of knowledge and resources made available to us to go through in research and incorporate in our narrative. at least on my part, i was a little bit surprised at just how much effort and planning goes into producing a documentary. >> we were not trying to make the film that was going to win. we eventually just got a topic that we were passionate about and we went with that. >> i still think like even now i am having trouble processing what this means. i mean, it is amazing that this message will be spread throughout classrooms across the country. pres. trump: and we are going to washington, d.c. to drain the swamp. >> to be american means to hold your government accountable, because america has a corruption
problem. in a recent gallup poll, 75% of american respondents said the political corruption was widespread in the country's goernment. when an american thinks about political corruption, it is common to think about criminal bribery and illegal money, but that is not all that constitutes it. political corruption can be defined as any abuse of power or distortion of democracy that undermines the interests of the people. so what is the role of citizen accountability in our government? >> we live in a representative democracy. it's essential and definitive of what america means that we hold our representatives accountable. if they don't reflect the people, then the entire concept of the american experiment does not work. the american people are behind, what happens when you get to dc is a totally different story. >> our obsession with corruption is an american tradition. >> our country was founded by framers who understood that concentrated power is always inimical to liberty. >> so where did this fight against tyranny make its way into the structure and principles of our government? >> the founders believed that
only a government founded by the people is just. going back to the very founding moments, that was an essential element of the american creed. >> the declaration of independence says, "we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal." to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. that is the purpose of government. deriving their just powers from the consent of the government. >> in the birth of our nation, the founding fathers drew on this quote, the corruption of a republic rests within the corruption of its principles. so where has the united states detracted from this? >> so instead of the textbook model where you have the executive executing law, judges judging violations, and the legislative making law, you have all three functions combined in bureaucracies and executed largely by people that are not elected. >> it ultimately comes down to who the folks are in power, but the constitution has always provided for evolving to meet
progressive goals, and i mean progress as far as a more representative society to be able to give people power and authority over their government as opposed to just a wealthy elite class. >> it is clear that the anxieties of our founding fathers surrounding corruption have not necessarily lived on in our democracy regardless of how many protests planned, laws passed, and positions lost. the successful fight against corruption's for citizen accountability in government was intended to be a distinct american quality. so what are the disparities? >> there has always been a disconnect when you get to elected representatives, politicians once they are in power, and they become dependent. they have to go out and be dependent upon lobbyist contacts or the ways the industry influences their behavior. >> but relationships, when they manifest themselves in the political arena to get things done for one person that is not done for another, it is a form of corruption.
>> i think it has pretty clearly gone beyond that in construing the scope of federal power, and has done that by i think distorting the original meaning of the necessary and proper clause which gives congress the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution its enumerated powers. it has moved all our politics to the federal level with one-size-fits-all legislative solutions because the federal government has pretty much unlimited power today. >> so how can citizens hold the government accountable for abuses of power and undermining the interests of the people? >> try to convey and fight for as people start thinking of purpose driven decisions instead of partisan driven decisions. the local level you can get in our face and express your view, and you will be heard. so, there is much more access, which means there is much more accountability. >> taking leadership and introducing reforms that can catch fire and catalyze federal reform. we see it the only way through now is doing this at the state and local level. >> the public can't really stay on top of everything.
i mean, a citizen's most important job is to do what they do well and then to vote. i think voting people to represent you and trusting that role to members of congress that you believe in is really as much as anyone has time for, except for a select few. >> we have had almost 80 anticorruption acts, resolutions passed around the country. in ohio this year, anti-gerrymandering. a comprehensive ethics package in alaska. we have seen a win in maine. we have more anticorruption democracy measures on the ballot in november than at any point in american history. i would say like this movement is taking hold and folks are getting the idea that we cannot wait on elected officials to take care of the problem. >> in short, it all comes down to us. our american institution is one of the most unique in the world where citizens have the powers vested in them to hold the government accountable, rather than just sit around and complain. the greatest thing about the issue of corruption in the united states is that the citizens are vocal in subduing it.
in most cases, the people are willing to recognize the nation's flaws even when the politicians do not. this cements the idea of checks and balances not just within power, but between the governed and the government. you may remember the gallup poll at the beginning of this film and the significance is not how widespread corruption actually is but in how well we seek to keep the government in check. out of the 20 other nations interviewed in a survey, the united states has by far the most pessimistic view on corruption. no matter how many times federal, state, and local governments overstep their power, the citizens are always there to play their part when they are knowledgeable of what they can do. so stand up, participate, and exemplify what it means to be an american by holding your government accountable. announcer: and you can watch every winning studentcam documentary online at studentcam.org. announcer: she spends washington
journal come alive every day with news and policy issues that impact you. monday morning, dennis hayes, cofounder of earth day, discusses the creation of earth day and sustainable development efforts. also joining us, talking about the news of the day and their new book, the battle for congress and the future of trump's america. c-span's washington journal 7:00 eastern monday morning. join the discussion. announcer: next, former president george w. bush talks about governing and leadership. we will discuss the -- at 11:00 p.m. another chance to seek you in day -- announcer: the british parliament is in recess this week, so prime minister's questions will not be seen tonight. now for president george w. bush
--robert gates -- annuals part of the george w. bush presidential center forum on leadership. this runs 45 minutes. ms. dobriansky: good morning, everyone, and thank you for that wonderful introduction. i have to tell you, i am really thrilled this morning to have this discussion with two leaders, patriots, who really have served our country with distinction, honor, courage of conviction, compassion, and integrity. not onlye to say that did they serve our country, but they continue to serve our country. so we have a lot of issues to go to and discuss about leadership and about foreign policy and strategy.